Defense secretary Hagel scraps plan for Distinguished Warfare Medal; cyber troops and drone pilots could get special designations on existing awards.
An artist's rendering of the new Distinguished Warfare Medal, which was to cover cyber warfare, among other pursuits. (DOD image)
Cyber warriors won't be getting their own medal after all.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on April 15 that the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which former secretary Leon Panetta had unveiled just three months earlier, would be scrapped. The medal had been intended to honor cyber personnel, drone pilots and others who do not enter direct physical combat for "extraordinary achievement, not involving acts of valor, directly impacting combat operations or other military operations."
The new honor's precedence ahead of the such combat awards as the Purple Heart and Bronze Star prompted complaints, and the Pentagon on March 12 suspended production of the new medal pending a 30-day review led by Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"While the review confirmed the need to ensure such recognition," Hagel said, "it found that misconceptions regarding the precedence of the award were distracting from its original purpose."
The new plan is to create "a new distinguishing device that can be affixed to existing medals to recognize the extraordinary actions" of cyber personnel and others who would have been eligible for the Distinguished Warfare Medal, Hagel said. "I agree with the Joint Chiefs’ findings, and have directed the creation of a distinguishing device instead of a separate medal."
New criteria and other details regarding the "distinguishing device" are to be submitted to Hagel for final approval within 90 days.
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